Artists and historians will be exploring the Tame and the area around, and the individual journeys through Witton and Perry Barr of residents past and present. There will be lots going on, including events, workshops, printed work and exhibitions for the whole community to get involved in.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

People of Witton #1: King Kynoch

I will be looking at a number of Witton residents past and present, but let's start with one of the first to put Witton on the map, George Kynoch. He moved his business to rural Witton in the 1860s and grew it to an immense size.

It is 1887, and George Kynoch really is King of his empire; his business in Witton was a massive enterprise and had expanded greatly in the area and was spreading over the globe. In 1886 Kynoch had become chairman of Aston Villa Football Club and had been elected an MP for Aston Manor (Kynoch's throne is engraved with 'Aston Manor' as well as the details of his business). The smaller man has the name 'Phipson Beale' written on his collar. Phipson Beale was part of a prominent Birmingham family, he was a politician who was a candidate for the Aston Manor by-election, competing against Kynoch, and loosing. By the next year George had been 'persuaded' to resign by his directors due to all these clashes in his obligations and he died in relative poverty a few years later in South Africa. The business that bore his name though, was one of the largest and most prominent in the area.

The 'Martin's Patent' machine on George Kynoch's head is a bit of a mystery. From what I can gather, a company called Martin's had a particularly large number of patented items, so perhaps this is a particularly innovative Bright Idea Machine, that has been invented by the illustrator to make a point. I think I'd probably buy one!



  1. I've just been given a coffee percolator made out of a brass 18 pound artillery shell. There's a small brass plate affixed to whose engraving reads: "G.Kynoch & Co. Martin's Patent Birmingham. Seems to me there was a close relationship between the two companies.